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As warm weather sweeps in, so does an annual nuisance—houseflies. The small, black, buzzy critters that land on your food, pester the dog, and create incessant irritation may seem harmless, but they’re capable of carrying pathogens and disease. You certainly want to avoid an infestation! While there is no one way to get rid of flies in the house, a multipronged approach can keep them at bay. Prevent a few lingering pests from growing into a bigger problem by following these five strategies.
1. Seal the Entrance
It may seem obvious, but if you don’t want flies in the house, don’t let them in. With a busy household of visitors, kids, and pets coming and going, that’s sometimes more easily said than done. But do what you can: Make sure you have screens on your windows and doors, and repair any mesh that has been damaged enough to make a fly-sized entrance. It doesn’t take much!
2. Remove the Bait
If you want to get rid of flies indoors, as with all other pests, you should do your best to remove or minimize the stuff that attracts them. Food is at the top of that list. Don’t leave any out, especially if it’s uncovered. More than that, remember to keep countertops clean of crumbs, wash dishes soon after meals rather than leaving them in the sink, and keep the door to the dishwasher closed when it’s waiting to be run.
Beyond your food, however, you’ll also want to be mindful of compost, garbage, and pet food. These are also attractive to flies and can quickly become breeding grounds. To prevent a few flies from turning into a colony, take any compost materials outside immediately. Keep the garbage covered, and carry it out regularly. Finally, cover or clean Fluffy’s bowls completely between meals—particularly if you stock up on wet food varieties.
3. Lure Them Out
If you’re suffering a large swarm of flies in the house, save yourself the cardio of whipping your flyswatter about and first see if you can get the majority of them to leave willingly. Insects are attracted to light, so start by darkening the room they’re in. Shut the blinds and drapes, and leave a small opening at the door. A number of your pesky houseguests will probably buzz toward the light and find their way out, leaving you with a smaller crowd.
4. Call In the Swat Team
Once you’ve worked through your prevention tactics, take down the flies that remain with the usual suspects: a good old-fashioned flyswatter or a rolled-up newspaper. Because a fly has almost 360-degree vision, it’s best to approach from behind and hover just above before making a final decisive and deadly flick. Pink flyswatters are certainly pretty for hanging up when the job’s done, but neutral colors are less obvious and better for stealth. To aid your efforts, you can hang flypaper—store-bought or homemade—to trap flies, and then discard and replace it when full. If you’re lucky, the bug might land on it while trying to escape your swipes.
If you have good eyesight and reflexes, you can vacuum them right out of the air mid-flight, but it’s easier to hover a few inches in front of them for 10 to 20 seconds (just as you would with a swatter) and then swoop in to nab them. Attempt this method only if your vacuum has a bag, and dispose of it immediately so they don’t find their way back out and into your home.
5. Prevent Return Visits
Flies don’t care for smoke, so burning a few citronella candles while you’re outdoors can discourage them. Indoors, use plants and essentials oils with odors that repel. Mint, lavender, and basil are all worthy houseplants to place in your windowsill. And a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle full of water can be a first defense if sprayed around the frames of doors and windows, though you’ll need to reapply often.